FROM THE RECTOR
One of the primary and defining issues of our time and place is the crisis of housing. As in, we simply do not have enough affordable places to live for those who have lived here and those who move here to work at the jobs we have been creating. You can see this in the number of people barely able to make rent or a mortgage, and you can see this in the number of people who are living on the streets, in RVs, and in cars. While the crisis has been building for quite some time, the last ten years have made a challenging housing market simply unsustainable, as the Bay Area metro area has produced 1 housing unit for every 7 new jobs that have been created. People have to live somewhere.
No one is unaffected by the crisis. People who were already struggling to live in the area have been pushed much further out in the Bay Area, dramatically lengthening commutes with all of the corrosive attendant effects. Young families can no longer afford to buy into the area, and are often forced to either rent at increasingly high rates, or leave the area entirely. The number of All Soulsians who have left the East Bay for Sacramento, Austin TX, Boulder CO, Portland OR, Charleston, WV, Missoula MT, Ann Arbor, MI and many other more affordable locales is legion. More recently, our elders have been leaving the Bay Area, moving to be with adult children in areas that are more affordable.
This crisis is so profound that attempting to solve it is a central plank in the campaign platforms of nearly every single locally elected official. At this point affordable housing is the top priority of the city council in Berkeley, our Mayor Jesse Arreguin, the mayors of Oakland and San Francisco, Libby Schaaf and London Breed, and even our newly elected Governor, Gavin Newsom.
And like nearly every challenge that really matters, it is not without discord. The state of California has sued the city of Huntington Beach over the city’s policies. And the city of Huntington Beach sued the state right back. A recent regional accord to increase housing density near transit resulted in the removal of several officials in Sonoma County and the Peninsula. The city of Lafayette has been in bitter conflict around the building of housing near the downtown area that resulted in the resignation of the city manager.
And for better and for worse, All Souls Parish is in the middle of that struggle. For worse because we have been the recipients of the proverbial slings and arrows that mark many struggles like this. For better because we are taking our part in making room for the vulnerable who are being shunted aside—in particular, elders who are at risk for eviction due to the insanity of rental increases in the Bay Area, and have little to no other place to live. The proposed building at 1601 Oxford will provide housing and community to elders in great need of both. And it has not come without controversy.
And it has made me wonder, both for our neighborhood and the greater Bay Area—do we believe that there is room for others? It’s a question that we have asked ourselves before at All Souls, especially six years ago when we restructured our ministries, our staff, and our services. As the pews were filling up, and the our staff and structures were over-taxed, one question that we asked was, “Are we willing to close the door behind us?” If not, we had to make changes, which we did. It wasn’t easy, but it made room for others to receive the gift that we had been given.
We asked a similar question when asylum seekers needed a place to stay after being released from detention. Can we make room for others? Now, I realize that making room comes with risk, it means that what we will have to change. It means that what we have become accustomed to, benefited from, will no longer remain just ours alone.
It is not clear to me what will happen in the Bay Area in the decades to come. Are we ready to make compromises? Are we dissatisfied enough with 2 hour commutes and million dollar median home prices, and thousands of people living in tents? Are we willing to make room in our neighborhoods, but more fundamentally in our hearts? I sincerely hope so. The days, weeks, and months ahead will offer the answer.
From Stephen Ministry
Whoa—it’s not the prettiest phrase that might escape our lips. But sometimes the ugliest sets of words deserve more attention than we might like to give them and can actually teach us something. Certainly I cannot imagine Jesus ever speaking like that—except when perhaps Mom was late with lunch. But the rest of us (those who consider ourselves more… mature? polite? civilized? than young children) I think we tend to bury those phrases. Sometimes that’s effective and sometimes we lose out.
In my experience, those words are quite slippery and clever. And so often they do find their way out, possibly more than once. And then—do we squelch them yet again? Or do we listen? And perhaps even ask ourselves what they might tell us.
I found myself in just such a position recently with my Stephen Minister. We were talking about my adult self, but this four-year-old version suddenly emerged. I am not sure what my minister thought at the time, but I decided to give that young voice some real attention. The words had originally escaped my mouth in a family discussion that was sometime in the last few years (when I was—presumably–a “mature adult”). (Hey—can the wise cracks.) But this time I decided to listen to the four-year-old tone within—to actually enter the exasperation behind the whine. It was quite instructive. And what was my Stephen Minister doing at the time? She was wisely quiet. She could see from my face that something active was going on and just waited to see what might emerge.
Stephen Ministry is not therapy. But sometimes it can feel that way. A Stephen Minister is taught to listen to the emotions behind the words and the gestures—not to analyze their fellow parishioner but to share what they see and bring those observations to the care-receiver’s attention. They know when to speak and when to wait and say nothing. Most problems have factual sides AND emotional sides, but many of us may not be that skillful at examining the emotional side. It is generally much easier to see another person’s problems than to excavate our own, because we often like to hide our raw selves—especially from ourselves. And whether or not you can readily analyze your own shrieks and blurts, ALL of us, it seems to me, can benefit from setting aside time to look at our stormier selves more closely. That’s what a Stephen Minister can provide—an hour once a week to dig in and see what might be unearthed.
We are all of us different, but the emotional truths behind our words can often seem entirely illogical. Accepting the illogic along with the logic can often be a key to resolving a situation that is crazy-making for us. I use that word “crazy” very loosely here. I apply it to those irritating problems which plague us in ordinary life, seemingly no matter what we do. How can I care for Mom without feeling resentful or guilty? How can I deal with my nutso boss? What can I say to my spouse that supports what they are struggling with without getting caught up directly in their anxiety? How can I gently tell my father that he is the worst grandpa ever on God’s green earth!? : ) Okay, you get the picture.
So often we think about Stephen Ministry when someone has a major loss—a spouse, a job, a feeling of home. But many more of us could benefit from having a regular listener—someone who can hear the minutiae of our situation without judging us because we might sound like a small child. I believe there is a small child inside all of us, and sometimes they are smarter than we think. If you’d like to give your whiney inner child some regular time to spout off, consider a Stephen Minister. Contact Phil or Liz or Nancy Austin (firstname.lastname@example.org) or 510-407-0037). We think you’ll be glad you did.
– Judith Lothrop
From Adult Formation
Whiteness as Heresy, in the Common Room
When a white supremacist group called Patriot Prayer came to Berkeley, All Soulsians showed up to witness to God’s love and a radically different vision for what it means to be a white Christian in our context. This 3-part series, Whiteness as Heresy, will explore and further articulate that vision. Professor Scott MacDougall brings the theological resources of our rich tradition and Laura Eberly brings her expertise as a diversity and equity consultant and community organizer to the questions; 1) How we might address race, and specifically questions of whiteness and white supremacy, theologically as Episcopalians? 2) What defines a culture of white supremacy, and what foils and alternatives does our Christian commitment offer us? 3) Finally, how might we, as an All Souls community, deepen our commitment and capacity to address racial injustice in our time?
The Heart of Lent: Preparing for the Mystery of Easter, in the Parish Hall
In this three-week class, starting February 10, we will take a new look at Lent—what it is, why it matters, and what it’s really all about. Through story, scripture, meditation, and practices to try at home, we will explore ways to adopt and develop a posture, a stance, an orientation that helps us to open our hearts and enter Lent in a more intentional, awake way as we prepare for the Easter and the Feast of the Resurrection. Co-taught by the Rev. Phil Brochard, Emily Hansen Curran, and Sheryl Fullerton.
Beloved Community Training Day + Vestry Training
Saturday, February 23, 2019, at Grace Cathedral
Put on your best cardigan and your Keds and join us for a day of exploring ways that churches can meet neighbors and be neighbors themselves. Churches can ask the question “Who is my neighbor?” and then explore new ways of thinking about the neighbors around us, both far and near.
There are a variety of workshops for both lay leaders and clergy to attend. There is a track for vestry members – but this isn’t just for vestry members. This is day is great for those involved in outreach ministries, formation, communications volunteers, Eucharistic Ministers and Visitors, and anyone needing training in Whole and Healthy Church – our new safe church training. And there will be an extended presentation by CPG for anyone part of the Church Pension Group.
Our large group sessions will be a time of worship as well as drama presented by Kurt and Cathey Purucker of the Covenant Players to make us laugh, think and look at our church life from a different viewpoint.
Cost: $20 a person (to cover lunch). Partial Scholarships are available.
Questions? Contact Amy Cook, Working Group Head for Faith Formation, email@example.com
Annual Meeting Recap
Many thanks to all the many and fabulous souls who joined together for a great Annual Meeting last week! Congratulations to Joe Garrett, Kieran King, Kaki Logan and Howard Perdue, who were elected to the vestry. The 2018 Annual Report is available digitally, and you can download it from our website here.
Children’s Choir begins again
The All Souls Children’s Choir is kicking off its spring season Sunday, February 3, after the 11:15 service. If you have a child age 7-12 who loves to sing and who can read, please join us! We typically have a light snack and then rehearse from 1:00pm-1:45pm. We will sing during the 11:15 service on March 3 and June 2, with rehearsals on the four Sundays leading up to each date. Come and help make a joyful noise to the Lord!
CARBON TRACKER APP WORKSHOP
During the 10:10 teaching hour this Sunday, February 3rd, Terry Nicol will host a workshop in the Parish Hall for those interested in getting to know the Carbon Tracker App that Dr. Sheila Andrus shared with us a few weeks back. Come by if you just want to learn more, or if you’ve tried it out but have had some hangups in getting it going. All are welcome. Bring your devices with you as that will best enable them to help walk you through how it works. See Terry Nicol, firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Youth Group Lock-In
Middle and High Schoolers are invited for an overnight lock-in at the church – time for fun, adventure, connection and general shenanigans. For questions and details, or to sign up, email Emily Hansen Curran: email@example.com.
Have you wondered about the Episcopal church? Wonder no more! For the five weeks in Lent, starting March 10th, on Sunday evenings, we’ll host this introductory course. In it we’ll explore the whys, hows, and whats of the Episcopal church. If you are looking to get Baptized, Confirmed, Received, or Reaffirmed in the church, this is the course for you. Or, if you’re just looking to learn more about this Episcopal tradition, this is also the course for you. Written by our own Stephan Quarles and Emily Hansen Curran with help from a fellow Episcopalian, Andrew Lee, this course is meant to deepen our faith, our practice, and our relationships. All are welcome. See Emily, firstname.lastname@example.org, for more information.
Announcements from the Bishop’s Office:
– Summer Camp registration is now open! Visit diocal.org/summer-camps for the list of the 2019 programs.
– Save the date for the 2019 Confirmation services: May 4 (EcoConfirmation), June 1 (General Confirmation at Grace Cathedral), November 4 (Fall Confirmation at Grace Cathedral). For more details, go to diocal.org/confirmation.